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What you need to know about kitchen knives

You need to know why you need a kitchen knife first before buying one. This is especially true if you work in a specific professional kitchen. I worked full-time in an Asian fusion kitchen, which serves Chinese and Japanese dishes. If you are a home cook, you are good with just a paring knife and a chef’s knife. But like any other hobby cooks, we like to expand our collection. So let’s dig deeper into the world of kitchen knives.

Buying a kitchen knife for the first time

Before you buy a kitchen knife, you need to know what you will use it for. Some knives are only for meat and others only for vegetables, and some are for chopping bones, etc. If this is your first time buying a kitchen knife, then I recommend a cheap 18 to 20cm (7 to 8icnh) chef’s knife for a maximum of 18 euro (approx. 20 dollars). A chef’s knife is good for vegetables and boneless meat. The reason for a cheap first knife is to gain experience dull it and hone and sharpen it. You will learn how to sharpen and hone the knife by doing it repeatedly until you are ready for a more expensive pair.

Don’t buy a tv-chef kitchen knife!

You absolutely need to avoid buying the tv celebrity-branded knives that they sell in the supermarket or at a cheap home cooking store. You can buy a tv celebrity knife, but I recommend buying them at a minimum 60% discount and not at the full price. If you see it at a 75%+ discount, that will definitely be my buy recommendation. All the tv celebrity chefs use cheap stainless steel. Which is good for home cooks and beginners, but they sell them at a premium just to put their logo or name on them. A tv celebrity stainless steel chef’s knife of 18-20cm (7 to 8 inch) should not be more than 18 euro (approx. 20 dollars) max. Or you must really love the tv chef and pay 40 or 50 euros for his knife.

Steel-types of kitchen knives

We can talk a lot about the types of steel but what you want to know is what Rockwell Hardness your knives are (HRC). The higher the HRC, the harder the steel.

  • 52-54 HRC: Cheap chefs knives, mostly very cheap 8 euro (10 dollars) made in China. It needs to be honed every time we are done with a task. Suppose used in a professional kitchen.
  • 54-56 HRC: Better than cheap knives. Mostly for home cooks and not for the professional kitchen. Most cheap Chinese bone cleavers use this kind of hardness. Needs to honed a few times a day if used in a professional kitchen.
  • 56-58 HRC: Easy to sharpen and used in a professional kitchen. Most german knives or better quality Chinese vegetable/bone cleavers use this kind of hardness.
  • 58-60 HRC: Better quality kitchen knives like Japanese knife global. They stay longer sharp but are harder to sharpen.
  • 60-62 HRC: The knives remain sharp for a long time but have more risk of becoming brittle. Harder to sharpen, and quality depends on the production. Mostly used in Japanese knives.
  • 63-66 HRC: Needs cleaning after each use and more prone to chipping and becoming brittle.

Of course, these are just guidelines. The manufacturer and where the knives are made has a huge role in the quality.

VG10 Chinese Knives?

The Japanese VG10 steel has a hardness of 60 to 61 HRC if it is made in Japan. But if China imports the Japanese VG10 steel and makes it in their own country, the hardness can shift to 58 – 62 HRC. So it depends highly on the manufacturer.

Update 11.11.2020

After talking to multiple OEM’s and pretty much every single one of them told me that imported Japanese VG10 is not possible (anymore), but 10Cr15CoMoV is a Chinese equivalent to the Japanese VG10.

Some OEM’s told me that VG10 export is banned, so pretty much exclusive to Japan and the knife makers in Japan. (Imported Japanese AUS10 is possible for import, but not the Japanese VG10)

Like you all know, when you guys asked in the comment sections if it was the real Japanese VG10, I always said that I have my doubts or the heat treatment was not on par with Japanese-made VG10.

This pretty much confirms why and why I have pushed AUS10 over VG10 a lot more when it comes to knives made in China. 10Cr15CoMoV would not be bad steel if heat-treated correctly. It will indeed sit between VG10 and AUS10 if the heat treatment is good.

It may be possible to import VG10 again in the future since the Export ban will eventually hurt the steel manufacturer in the long run as competitors order from their competitor (AUS10, German Steel, Swedish Steel etc.).

Japanese chef knives cost around 180 euros while the Japanese VG10 imported steel Chefs Knives are around 90 euros, so they are 50% cheaper. China also had its own kind of VG10 steel, which they call 10Cr15C and sometimes 10Cr15CoMoV. You can compare that with VG10 Japanese steel. The hardness here also depends on the manufacturer and its method. The HRC is around 58 and 62, but it is impossible to measure it for us, so we have to count on their words. 10Cr15C or 10Cr15CoMoV cost around 45 euros, which is 75% cheaper than the Japanese VG10 knives made in Japan.

▶ If you want to know what knife you should buy you can read 
the following article ''Choosing your knife''. 

▶ On my youtube channel, I have reviewed a lot of different knives.
You can watch the playlist by clicking here.  

▶ Click here, if you want to search for other
kitchen knives on:  Amazon.

▶ Click here, if you want to search for other 
Chinese knives on AliExpress.

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▶ If you have any questions about Japanese knives made in China 
or about some of the brands feel free to ask it in the comment section below.   

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Hi, I'm ChefPanko, I have worked for multiple restaurants and have decided to share my experience with you guys. I will share recipes and techniques that I have learned, taken, and improved from the French, Japanese restaurants that I have worked for. I will also explore other cuisines with you guys.

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